Short Biography of Srila Prabhupada
Srila Prabhupada Reveals Vrindavana to the World
Srila Prabhupada's Bhajan Kutira
Srila Prabhupada's Samadhi
Biography of Srila Prabhupada
Divine grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta
Swami Prabhupada appeared in a family of Krishna conscious devotees in 1896 in
Calcutta, India. From childhood he showed the signs of a pure devotee of the
Lord, engaging in kirtanas and Krishna
conscious plays in school. His father, Gour Mohan De, gave him proper spiritual
Srila Prabhupada first met his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati
Goswami (1874–1937), in Calcutta in 1922. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, part
of the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya chain of disciplic succession, was a great exponent
and scholar of Krishna conscious philosophy and the founder of sixty-four
Gaudiya Mathas (Vedic institutes) in India. At their first meeting, Srila
Prabhupada received instructions that would help inspire him to bring about a
spiritual revolution in the world. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati said, “You
are an educated young man. Why don’t you preach Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s
message throughout the whole world?” Although the genuine followers of the
had worshiped Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, since time
immemorial, their philosophy and transcendental literature had remained unknown
outside India. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati convinced Srila Prabhupada that
spreading the teachings of Krishna consciousness was the most important work he
could do, and in 1933 Srila Prabhupada became his formally initiated disciple.
1944 Srila Prabhupada founded Back to
Godhead, an English fortnightly magazine expounding the transcendental
science of Krishna consciousness. Using his own money and working with no
assistants, he wrote, edited, proofread, printed, and distributed the magazine
throughout northern India. The magazine is now being continued by his disciples
in the West.
1950 Srila Prabhupada retired from married life, adopting the
(retired) order to devote more time to his studies and writing. He traveled to
the holy city of Vrindavana, where he lived in humble circumstances in the
historic temple of Radha-Damodara. There he engaged for several years in deep
study and writing. He accepted the renounced order of life (sannyasa)
in 1959. At Radha-Damodara, Srila Prabhupada began work on his life’s
masterpiece: a multivolume commentated translation of Srimad-Bhαgavatam (Bhagavata
Purana). The Srimad-Bhagavatam, an
encyclopedic scripture, is often called “the cream of the Vedic literature”
because it deals exclusively with the Supreme Lord, His devotees, His
transcendental pastimes, and the science of
or devotional service.
Prabhupada struggled alone, writing and editing the great work and collecting
funds to print the first three volumes. After completing the first volume, he
presented a copy to the then prime minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri, who
appreciated his scholarly work.
1965 the way was finally cleared for Srila Prabhupada to embark on his historic
journey to the West. Sumati Morarji, an admirer and the owner of the Scindia
lines, gave him free passage aboard the cargo ship
and in August 1965, a few days before his sixty-ninth birthday, he left India
with a crate of his Srimad-Bhagavatams,
a pair of hand cymbals, and forty
Indian rupees (about seven dollars).
The forty-day journey proved arduous. A few days out to sea, the
passed through heavy storms, and Srila Prabhupada suffered not only sea-sickness
but also two heart attacks on successive nights. During the third night Lord
Krishna appeared to him in a dream and urged him on, assuring him of all
protection. The attacks did not recur.
When the Jaladuta docked at
Boston harbor on September 17, 1965, Srila Prabhupada wrote,
“My dear Lord Krishna, You are so kind upon this useless soul, but
I do not know why You have brought me here. Now You can do whatever You
like with me. . . . How will I make the Westerners understand the message
of Krishna consciousness? I am very unfortunate, unqualified, and most
fallen. Therefore, I am seeking Your benediction so that I can convince
them, for I am powerless to do so on my own.”
Then, after a short stay with a sympathetic couple in Butler, Pennsylvania,
Srila Prabhupada entered the world’s leading metropolis, New York City.
Throughout the winter of 1965–66 he struggled alone in the cold climate, selling
a few copies of his Srimad-Bhagavatams
to curious strangers. With the help of a few new friends, he eventually moved to
Manhattan’s Lower East Side, renting an apartment and a small storefront at 26
word soon spread among young seekers of spiritual truth that an Indian swami had
come with a special spiritual yoga method, the chanting of the Hare Krishna
In July 1966 Srila Prabhupada officially formed the International Society for
Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Soon he took his small band of disciples to
nearby Washington Square Park for their first public chanting of Hare Krishna.
Despite his strict rules—no meat-eating, illicit sex, intoxication, or
gambling—he quickly attracted a small but dedicated following.
Before long Srila Prabhupada had opened centers in San Francisco, Montreal,
Boston, Los Angeles, and Buffalo. He introduced to the West the ancient
Ratha-yatra chariot festival, now held in major cities throughout the world. In
1972 His Divine Grace introduced the Vedic system of primary and secondary
education in the West by founding the
gurukula school in Dallas, Texas. Since then his disciples have established
similar schools throughout the United States and the rest of the world.
Srila Prabhupada inspired some of his followers to set up Krishna conscious
farms under the banner of “simple living and high thinking,” and he also
inspired the construction of several large international cultural centers in
India. These include the Shree Chaitanya-chandrodaya Mandir in Mayapura, near
Calcutta, the Krishna-Balaram Temple and Guesthouse in Vrindavana, near Delhi,
and a large temple complex in Bombay. Before Srila Prabhupada passed away in
1977, he had seen his Hare Krishna movement spread around the world, with
centers in most of the major cities of North and South America, Europe, Africa,
Asia, and Australia.
Although constantly traveling—he made no less than twelve world tours in as many
years—Srila Prabhupada never stopped writing on the science of Krishna
consciousness, completing more than fifty books in English. Many have been
translated into other languages, and more than 500 million pieces of his
literature have been distributed worldwide. Wherever Srila Prabhupada stayed, he
translated Vedic scripture and nurtured his disciples and the movement.
Prabhupada accomplished these inconceivable feats between the ages of sixty-nine
and eight-one through great personal effort and unshakable faith in Krishna.
Only a brief summary of his transcendental achievements is given here. For the
complete biography, write or call the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
is clear that Srila Prabhupada was not an ordinary devotee of God, or even an
ordinary guru. rather, he was a
great saint empowered by the Lord to teach the people of the world the science
of Krishna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada’s most significant contribution in
this regard is his books. Highly respected by the academic community for their
authority, depth, and clarity, they serve as standard textbooks in numerous
college courses. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, established in 1972 to publish
his works, has become the world’s largest publisher in the field of Indian
religion and philosophy. Srila Prabhupada’s books, and his movement, promise to
occupy a significant place in the world’s intellectual, cultural, and spiritual
life for a long time to come.